All posts in Parenting Tips & How To

Siblings Part 3: Tips To Bring More Joy

stop the fighting

Watching your kids play nicely together, hearing a shared giggle, watching a potential fight averted, because of some savvy negotiating between your 6 and 8 year old is just about every parent’s idea of a dream come true. But raising kids who truly enjoy each other is a process that takes years. It’s important that parents recognize that building on small moments, bringing a child’s awareness to the moments that “work” with a sometimes pesky sibling, providing situations in which kids can practice solving problems around play, will go a long way in creating sibling relationships that will stay strong and loving for years to come.

Personally, I made the decision when my kids were young, that if I could choose between kids who got along between 2 – 18 and kids who were close from 18 to 80, my choice would be the later. One of the major trip ups for parents around kids getting along when they are young, is the belief that we parents are responsible for those relationships. Maybe if we did more of one thing or less of another, we could guarantee our kids would be each other’s best friends for life – pinky swear. But nothing could be further from the truth. Take a page from your adult experience and trust that by following these easy but powerful 10 tips, you will indeed raise kids who truly enjoy each other’s company more with each passing year. And yes, you will witness this before they leave home.

appreciate

1. Appreciations: Just like suggesting to someone who has a head ache that they drink water, before they run to the doctor for an MRI, using appreciations as a way to combat sibling squabbles is often overlooked because of it’s simplicity. But as a mom who raised 5 kids in a blended family dynamic, this was the key to my kids not only enjoying life together under one roof, but the reason the 5 of them are still as thick as thieves as young adults.

2. Adler’s Golden Rule: “ I use Adler’s “see with their eyes, hear with their ears and feel with their heart” to help my children understand a sibling they are struggling with. Inevitably, there is a moment of empathy and awareness, which translates into a more relaxed and accepting dynamic. This has become the foundation for conversations when one sibling is struggling with another’s choice of behavior.” Mother of 4 children, ages 7 – 16.

sibling rivalry, ignore behaviors

3. No Blood – No Break – No Foul: “I stay out of every single squabble that doesn’t include blood or break. And yes, it’s tough. Especially in public. It’s easy for parents to get pulled into the tussle and as soon as I’m there, I can see the entire dynamic change. It’s no longer an opportunity for my kids to work together to solve the problem, it’s about me trying to decide who needs to change or do something different and the relationship between the kids takes a psychic hit. I would say, that at this point, my kids spend less than 10% of their time squabbling for more than just a few minutes. They have strategies that work for almost every occasion, including walking away, writing it on the problem board, negotiating and sometimes, just throwing themselves down on the ground and hoping for a sympathetic sibling to concede the toy.” Mother of 3 children, under the age of 5

4. Use Reality as your Guide: “I had kids who were very physical and it really concerned me. I thought that the fighting defined the relationship and it scared me. Over time, as I learned to watch the kids in other situations, I realized that they had a high degree of respect for each other and often times worked together in ways that I overlooked. I think it’s important for parents to really challenge their beliefs about what it means for kids to enjoy each other because truly, I think it can sometimes be a bit Polly-Anna. And today, my kids are as close as any siblings I know.” Mother of 3 children, ages 25 – 19

5. Get an accurate idea of how often your kids get along and how they “do” getting along. Most parents admit that when challenged to do this, they recognize that the kids get along more then they give them credit for. So take a deep breath and relax. Remember to acknowledge when the kids are working together or enjoying each other and be specific so they can use this information again and again.

6. Give them a break from each other. Even kids can get sick and tired of hanging with the same folks for too long. Sometimes it’s that simple. Allow them time alone, with other friends, with parents one-on-one and don’t get caught up in the “it’s not fair” song and dance.

7. If you have friends with older kids (like young teens) leverage them. They can teach your kids the importance of getting along with their siblings in a way that we, the parents, can’t. Hearing a story from a 10, 13 or 16 year old about how awesome they think their sibling is, or a time when their sibling came to their rescue, can go along way in helping shift your child’s perspective towards their pesky sibling.

8. Stop fretting. Most kids do enjoy each other. They might not show it the way you want them too, but they are young, they are doing the best they can. Allow the relationship to grow over time, slowly and naturally. Watch that you aren’t comparing or judging and that your expectations are in line with reality.

9. Keep your own childhood out of the picture. You aren’t raising yourself and over compensating for a lousy relationship with your sister will only guarantee that your kids struggle to create meaningful relationships with each other. If you model for your kids what a healthy relationship looks like, sounds like and feels like, they have a much better chance of establishing a healthy one with their siblings. Trying to force kids to get along usually back fires and causes more fractures not less.

10. Take pictures of the times people are enjoying each other and post them around the house. When kids start to squabble, bring them over to a picture and ask them to remind you of what was happening in the action. Along with this, make sure appreciations during Family Meetings includes when kids are rockin it out together. Remember, whatever you pay attention too – you get more of.

jens kids

Remember to pace yourself. It’s not nearly as important to have young children who have developed the skills which makes it possible for us to get along with people day in and day out for years, as it is to help them build a strong foundation that will grow with them over time and solidify the relationship they have with their brothers and sisters.

Siblings Fighting? Making Small Tweaks Can Change the Game

sibling rivalry, ignore behaviors

Here are the 3 simple tweaks (the first step) you can make to break the cycle of fighting in your home and create a little more peace, harmony and enjoyment from all that I promised you.

1. If YOU are still trying to GET your children to get along, the solution is simple: STOP. (In the next post I’ll share the most powerful strategy there is for eliminating the majority of the fighting in your home.) But first, I want you to stop getting involved and observe.

2. Because kids fight for their parents, the solution is to just watch what happens when you act like you don’t notice and walk out of the room or act like you found something more interesting to pay attention to. That doesn’t mean you ignore a situation where you think someone is in serious jeopardy of being hurt, but it does mean you learn to ignore the fighting that is designed to engage YOU. I walked around with headphones on and pretended to listen to music. This drove my kids nuts, but within a few short minutes, they were either dancing with me, or laughing at my taste in music. In either case, the fighting stopped and we could move on with our day.

mail.google.com

3. If you are doing things for your children that they could do for themselves, the solution is to: Invite, Train, Encourage and Support your children as they begin to engage in navigating the hills and valleys of their own lives. By inviting, training, encouraging and supporting your children, you will begin to notice that EVERYONE is in a new relationship with each other and that no one seems all that interested in fighting with anyone else.

If you just realized that you do too much for your children, I invite you to learn more about how to implement the Timeline for Training Strategy.

Young Adults Leave The Nest, But Not For Long.

 

 

I came up with a motto, a slogan to help me parent. And it was this: It is my job to make sure that when my children turn 18, I have trained them in everything that they need to learn so that they can open the doors, walk over the threshold, and enter young adulthood with confidence and enthusiasm. I have 18 years to prepare them. It is my job to teach them how to run their life so they don’t need me any longer. But so many kids leave home at 18, young adults, and find themselves at college and don’t know how to manage their lives, how to navigate their lives, how to make simple decisions, how to organize. And they’re forced back home. And I can’t think of anything worse for those kids to admit that they couldn’t make it on their own, or for their parents who have to say “come back home,” knowing that in some way it was their fault. If you find a child who has to come home because they couldn’t make it, this is a chance to start fresh. Look back and ask yourself what areas of this child’s life did you do for them because you thought it would be too hard or they would make a mistake or they would make a mistake and it was just easier if you did it for them. And teach them. It’s not going to be fun, because they see themselves as adults, but they already know that they’re missing some of the life skills that they need to be successful. Sit down, have a heart-to-heart, make a list start at the top, and teach them everything they need to now. Set a timeline that says, 6 months or a year from now we’re going to try it again. This is not the worst thing that will happen to you. Together we’re going to figure this out. We’re going to get you ready to go this time. And you’re going to give it another shot.

PRE-ORDER your copy of The Straight Talk On Parenting HERE

Tweens, Technology and…..Sexting

Sexting. Some parents have difficulty just saying the word, never mind admitting that their child might – just might – be participating in it.  Our sweet, innocent 3rd and 4th graders have suddenly become tweens and teens and they are growing up in a world very different than the one most of us grew up in – a world surrounded by technology. Many children will not remember a time when they didn’t have instant access to a friend living half way around the world or the ability to see their grandparents each week via skype. These kiddos can receive an immediate and accurate answer to a question about pre-historic dinosaurs and link classrooms and share poems with students in Ghana and Kansas. This invaluable technology has also introduced our children to texting, social media, youtube, cyberbullying and yes, even sexting.  With the awesome comes the not so awesome.

As parents we can stay in denial and try to convince ourselves that we have the ability to protect and shield our kids from internet dangers like sexting, or we can get educated, grab our courage and meet our kids where they already are – cell phone in hand deciding in a split second whether or not to send a racy picture or post a decidedly inappropriate picture on social media. Contrary to popular belief, technology is NOT the problem. 

The problem is our lack of preparation around this issue, it’s the lack of intelligent conversation we have with our kids that is the problem and it is our fear of the unknown that is the biggest roadblock. Remember our job as parents is to teach, prepare and work along side our kids as they learn to navigate the world of technology filled with all the pluses and minuses.

Parents come to me confused on how to handle the issues surrounding their tween/teen and technology. This subject often either leads to power struggles between parents and their kids that negatively impact the relationship and the entire topic of responsible technology use gets lost in the mix of fighting and battling or it leads to a “if you can’t beat them, give up and let them” attitude with no structure, conversation or boundaries in place. It’s not unusual for me to ask a room full of concerned parents this question as a jumping off point: “What do you know about your child to ensure that you have set up a structure that will work for her?” Silence. “Uh, structure?” Often the story is, “My son turned 13 and all he wanted was a phone. All of his friends have them and he was dying for his own so he could text and stay connected.  Now, just a few months later, it’s a mess. The phone bill is sky high, he’s on the screen all the time, he’s neglecting homework and family. It’s a nightmare.”

Okay. Let’s back this bus up a bit and see if an analogy will make it clear where we get tripped up.

Before handing someone the keys to a car, that person has

  1. Reached a certain age.
  2. Passed drivers education.
  3. Practiced driving for hours with an experienced driver.
  4. Proven they can handle the responsibility of paying for a car or gas.

Right? And even if parents are scared to death that their son or daughter will get behind the wheel of a car and be in a serious accident, we can’t stop them.  We know this and so we accept it. We prepare our kids and we prepare ourselves for the inevitable.  We don’t fight against it – we work with it.  And that is what makes the difference.  Unfortunately, the same cannot be said when it comes to preparing our kids to handle technology. In many cases, parents skip those steps and go right to the “car” – then realize that their child may not have the necessary skills to adequately navigate the tricky terrain of internet use.  When parents can reframe the idea of technology and create a plan for preparing themselves and their kids for its inevitable arrival, everyone wins.

With a specific concern like sexting, the situation becomes a bit more serious and as a result, a parent’s fear factor increases. The idea of talking openly and frequently with kids about sex is tough enough, now we are forced to combine sex and technology in the same conversation. No wonder parents are sidelining these conversations until they can no longer avoid them.  Here’s the thing, no matter what you do to prevent it, there is a strong likelihood that your child will either sext someone or receive a sext from someone. The goal is to come to terms with this and do what you need to do as a parent to prepare yourself so you can discuss the situation openly and honestly with your child and prevention, danger, recovery, restitution and healing from a humiliating experience.

Include technology in the conversations you have with your children about healthy and unhealthy relationships – sexual and not sexual. If you aren’t comfortable talking about the topic, how do you expect your child to open up and talk to you about it?  Our kids need to know we have the confidence to tackle any difficult conversation with love, respect and understanding.

Here are a few tips to make the process easier.

  1. First, do what it takes to find the courage, to talk with your tween/teen about the various scenarios that might come up and how she/he might handle them.
  2. Ask questions. Find out about your teen’s cyber IQ. How tech savvy is she? Does she realize once something gets out there in cyberspace you cannot get it back? Or does she really think that once the image disappears from Snapchat it is gone for good?
  3. Work in other areas of life with your child to ensure that he has the tools to navigate tricky subjects. Does he accept responsibility? Does he value himself and others? Does he practice empathy and respect? Does he crave attention and long to fit in?
  4. Come to fair and reasonable guidelines with your child around technology use and include sexting in the conversation. Have a plan and stick to it. Remember your kids need to know they can trust you. Following through on an agreement demonstrates this. They may be mad at first, but the bigger message is – you do what you say, which means you can be trusted.
  5. Respect your child’s privacy. Have faith in your child’s ability to keep the agreements. This doesn’t mean turn a blind eye to what is going on, but it does mean that you don’t have an app that sends all your children’s texts to your phone, too. Finding out what is on your teen’s cell phone is about trust and respect. If you focus on those aspects of the relationship, your teen will invite you in – on her terms.
  6. Demonstrate your understanding that being a teen is hard enough; Let your child know that you understand and that the added element of technology, social media and sexting is one that you didn’t have to figure out when you were 12, 14, and 17-years-old. It’s more than just saying that you’re there if they need you. If your child does get in trouble, it is what you do next that matters most.

Does your tween/teen have the courage make their own choices and not succumb to peer pressure when it comes to sexting? What can you as the parent do to support your child’s independence in this area?

 

Believe It Or Not, Your Kids Want To Contribute!

 

For

more information on elementary education visit KidsInTheHouse.com

 

Self-esteem is based on two things: Your ability to take care of yourself in totality and your ability to contribute to a group that you’re a part of.

When you’re talking about young children, the first jobs, the first tasks, the first skills that you teach them are self skills. How to take care of themselves, pick out their own clothes, get dressed, make a bed, brush their teeth, take a shower, wash their hair, make toast, pack a backpack, make lunch. Those are all valuable skills that kids are hungry to learn. It also feeds their self-esteem. By the time they’re 3 and 4, they’re looking for opportunities to help their parents in real life situations. They don’t want plastic kitchens, they want to be in the kitchen. They want to unload dishwashers and set tables. They want to help sort laundry and put the soap in. They want to help run the vacuum and get the dust buster.

For some reason, parents think that good parents delegate their children to the sidelines while they do all the work and the kids play alone. But what we know is where children want to be and what their natural drive is is to help out around the house.

All a parent has to do is make a list, extend an invitation, do a little bit of training, and they will have a child who believes that contributing to the health of their family includes helping out around the house.

Focus on the Relationship


For more information on parenting visit KidsInTheHouse.com

Oftentimes when I’m working with a parent and they are describing life with their kids, it’s as if they’re looking through a very small lens down on the ground. “I have to get my kids up, and then pick out their clothes, and then get them to the table, make sure they eat a healthy breakfast before they go to school.” And what they’re talking about are things – the minutiae of day to day life. But what’s happening is their kids are in the home with them. There are relationships that are either being built or fractured.

When I work with parents I talk about lifting your head up. Forget the minutiae for a minute. Do an inventory of what life is like in your home during the morning routine. Are people making connections? Are people talking to each other? Are people eating meals together? Are children engaged in their own life? Are they taking care of themselves? Getting dressed? Talking to mom and dad? Interacting with siblings? And oftentimes parents report that there’s very little of that going on. So instead we want to focus on what’s happening between the relationships with everyone in the home. We want to emphasize that this is what really makes for a healthy family, that taking care of the day-to-day minutiae of life isn’t really what creates a healthy, happy, sustainable family.

Now the good news is that once you shift your focus to the relationships that you have with the people in your home, the day to day stuff starts to take care of itself. You start to delegate jobs to people. Folks start to be more cooperative together. Kids start to take responsibility for their backpacks, and their lunches, and their homework so that Mom and Dad have more time to check in with their kids about how friendships are going or how the relationship with their teacher is. So it’s really just a shift in what you’re noticing. Then both of those things, the day to day life with kids and the relationship, start to work in balance with each other.

Allowing Children To Develop Their Voice

 

For

more information on parenting visit KidsInTheHouse.com

 

Have you ever met a really sassy, confident, great leader and you thought “man that guy’s really got it going?” Or “that gal is really a sharp leader?” If we went back in time and we talked to their parents, they would say, “Oh! This two year old was horrible! Bossed everybody around. Lined the bears up and told them what they’re going to do.” When we’re talking about allowing children to develop their voice, to share their opinion with their family members, to help create family policy, they are not going to be neat and tidy. Their job is to start to learn how to grow into an amazing leader, an amazing communicator who can communicate respectfully. I think parents are tougher than they give themselves credit for. I don’t really think we will wilt if we have a 7 year old who puts her hands on her hips and says, “I am not wearing that to school today!” If we just stop and think, what has been the evolutionary trajectory of this kid? From a 2 year old who said no all the time, to a 5 year old who was a little bit more cooperative, to a 7 year old who is demanding some equal rights, to a 13 year old who is now using a respectful tone, to a 16 year old who can negotiate respectfully and well, to a 22 year old who can fight for her own rights. So if parents understand that this is a natural maturation process, it can take a little bit of the edge off, and it won’t be used against them. That this is exactly what kids are supposed to be doing – growing and learning and changing while they’re in the home with mom and dad.

Your Picky Eater


For more information on toddlers visit KidsInTheHouse.com

This is my wisdom bomb when it comes to picky eaters and small children. Feed them at home. Feed them something good before you go to the party, the event, Disneyland, or wherever it is you’re going. And then don’t worry about it. Let them eat what they want. Say yes as much as possible. Just don’t worry about it, because the truth is one day, one week, even two weeks of eating lousy is not a make or break deal. It’s far more important that you make a positive memory with your child and relinquish all the craziness about the eating. Remember, it’s about the relationship. The relationship drives everything. If you focus on that, you won’t mind so much that the kids are eating too many cookies.

Practicing Gratitude

gratitude

I believe this is the third or maybe fourth year that we have posted this story. The fifth grade student who orchestrated this scene below is now a senior in high school. You may have read this before, but we can never be reminded enough about the simple beauty of practicing gratitude.

“Thank you very much, thank you. Thank you very, very much.”

Those words were sung by the enthusiastic students at a recent assembly held at a local elementary school. The applause and appreciation were for the school’s longtime janitor.

At the assembly, a fifth grade student and the art teacher requested that the janitor come to the front of the room. I watched as this humble, gentle man, caught off guard by the request and the cheers from the students, was asked to remove his ball cap, which was replaced with a crown made of decorated construction paper. He was instructed to take a seat on a “throne,” reserved just for him.

He sat on his “throne” as poised and calm as anyone I have ever seen-looking out at all the children, teachers, and parents with complete admiration and appreciation for each and every one of them. There we stood, his audience, appreciating him, honoring him, & thanking him.

I see this man every morning, greeting the children as they arrive with a “Hey, you, how are you?” “Good morning!” or “Have a great day!”

Then he always turns to me and says “That’s why I do this, you know-those kids. It’s important they have a clean place to go to school and learn.” Maybe that’s why the kids wanted to appreciate him, because they can feel his heart in his work and in his commitment to them.

Friday those kids practiced the art of gratitude. They took the time to notice and appreciate a special person in their lives.

So the next time you find yourself feeling stressed or overwhelmed, find your child or another family member and say “Thank you for being you – just the way you are.”

Living our values, whether it be gratitude, respect, integrity, kindness or whatever rings most important to you, takes intention, commitment and practice.

As always, feel free to share ways that you have practiced living your values in your life.

Problems with Potty Training? Give up

potty-training

Your attempt to have all the power.

When parents ask me,

How do I GET my kids to use the toilet?
How do I GET my kids to eat dinner?
How do I GET my kids to go to sleep at night?

My first thought is “how the heck should I know?” I’m not in the business of teaching parents more ways to control their kids.

Never in my 25 years of motherhood have I ever been able to GET my kids to do something they didn’t want to do. More specifically when it comes to potty training, eating and sleeping challenges, there is typically a deeper issue at hand.

Think about this for a minute. How do you make a child go the bathroom? How do you make a child eat something he refuses to eat? How do you make a child fall asleep? When it comes to these three areas,  the child is clearly in control.

Now don’t get me wrong, bribing, coaxing, and rewarding may provide the desired result in the short-term, but the downside is that you can find yourself right back at it only moments later. With these problems the quick fix method does nothing to facilitate independence in your children over the long term or solve the problem in the short term.

Any attempt to try and “get the kids” to do what you want only reinforces for the child that, “you can’t make him” and here he asserts his own personal power. So if you are experiencing trouble in any of these areas, take a moment and think about your relationship with your child.

Are there areas of his life where you could offer him more control? Is he picking out his clothes? Is he able to decide on certain foods he will eat? Have you incorporated some of his ideas into the bedtime routine? Does he have free time to do what he thinks is fun? Are you inviting him to help out with the real jobs around the house or are you sending him to play with his toys?

Most of the behaviors we experience with our kids are symptoms of an underlying problem. As parents we tend to hone in on changing the symptom and miss the real problem all together. The next time you are tempted to ask, “How do I get…” think about a different question, “What will it take for my child to…” This will help you look at situation(s) from a different perspective, identify what might be missing for your child and what you can do to help him move forward.

Remember, you are the best parent for your children. It’s not an easy road, but it’s a road worth traveling.

-Vicki

10 Tips to Happier Parenting!

Pierce-lingelbach

Happier Parenting doesn’t happen by magic. It takes practice. Here are my favorite tips for creating a life with kids that is sure to put a smile on everyone’s face.

 

 

1. Stop Worrying

About how your children express themselves in terms of their personal style (this includes their wardrobe, accessories, hair and makeup). Learn to notice character traits that define your child as a unique human being.

2. Ignore strangers

In the grocery store who give you the hairy eye-ball when your child throws a temper tantrum.

3. Learn to Wait Quietly

As your child finds his/her own solution for dealing with disappointment or frustration (or just being too tired to shop).

4. Don’t Interfere

If your child decides to go to school in jammies, wear sandals in the snow, or watch tv instead of doing homework. Nature is the best teacher.

5. Celebrate Your Child’s Courage

To make a choice and listen as he/she shares the experience without judgment or criticism.

6. Ignore Mistakes

Big and small, yours and theirs, and remember that mistakes are opportunities to learn. Resist the Urge to Say:

“I told you so” “What were you thinking?” and “If you had listened to me in the first place, you could have avoided the whole mess.” Imagine yourself in your child’s shoes and then respond accordingly.

7. Leave the mess.

When your child is 35 how do you want her to remember you? As the best damn, nagging housekeeper in the neighborhood or as her ally, champion and teacher?

8. Never ever, ever, ever, ask your neighbor how she parents.

You wouldn’t take your car to an accountant for an oil change would you?Consider yourself the expert in your child’s life.

9. When you don’t know what to do do nothing.

Challenge every belief you have about what “good” parents do and don’t do and replace it with accurate, factual information that will help you parent from your best.

10. Don’t make the mistake

Of believing that your children ARE their mischief making. Mischief making is your clue that you are living with a discouraged child. The only solution is to encourage and encourage again.

Guest Post: Another Setback

MillieOnce again Millie’s raw account and honest reflection of her day with her daughter inspires.

We all make mistakes along our parenting journey. Our job is not to be a perfect parent or raise perfect children. Our job is to be the best that we can be and times like this, it means digging deep, taking responsibility for what is ours, and doing it differently the next time. Apologizing and making amends goes a long way to raising a compassionate and empathetic human being. Thank you Millie by sharing your experience you are helping others!  Enjoy! – Vicki

I failed at parenting today.

It was supposed to be great! We changed up Olive’s school schedule so that she can now attend on Fun Fridays and, also so that she and I can have a whole day each week to ourselves. I was really excited to spend some time with Olive. She’s been so, well, great, lately. She’s been quick to help out when we’re picking up, she has cleaned up her messes after she makes them, and she’s been helping me in the kitchen. And, I mean really helping. I can put a pound of hamburger meat in a skillet and she can chunk it up and stir it and make sure it cooks evenly. There have been several moments when I’ve just stood still and marveled at how cooperative she’s been. (Every time she responds to my requests for help or to pick up with, “sure, mom,” I’m blown away.)

Based on all of these changes, I anticipated a day of good times and laughing and fun with my girl. Olive loves to go, go, go, so I figured she would have a great time running some errands, eating out, and doing a little shopping with me. Our first stop was the gym, Kids Club for Olive, which she LOVES. She was so excited, apparently, that she couldn’t stop making really loud and silly sounds and talking like a baby when we got there. Okay. Fine. She’s excited. Whatever.

Read the entire post on Millie’s Blog.

Resources for 2014

Oh those lazy days of summer…or maybe not. Regardless of how you are able to spend your summer days, here is a recommended reading list for all of you. There a many experts in the field of parenting and many who have specific expertise. Bookmark this blog and when you have the time you can peck away at this list of my absolute favorites. Next week I’ll post my top resources on Kids and Sex.

Protecting The Gift
by Gavin de Becker

In Protecting the Gift, Gavin de Becker shares with readers his remarkable insight into human behavior, providing them with a fascinating look at how human predators work and how they select their targets and most important, how parents can protect their children. He offers the comforting knowledge that, like every creature on earth, human beings can predict violent behavior. In fact, he says, parents are hardwired to do just that.
Learn more

Mindset
by Carol Dweck

Every so often a truly groundbreaking idea comes along. This is one. Mindset explains:
Why brains and talent don’t bring success
How they can stand in the way of it
Why praising brains and talent doesn’t foster self-esteem and accomplishment, but jeopardizes them
How teaching a simple idea about the brain raises grades and productivity
What all great CEOs, parents, teachers, athletes know
Mindset is a simple idea discovered by world-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck in decades of research on achievement and success—a simple idea that makes all the difference.

In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort. They’re wrong.

In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities.
Learn more

Children the Challenge
by Rudolf Dreikurs

Children: The Challenge gives the key to parents who seek to build trust and love in their families, and raise happier, healthier, and better behaved children. Based on a lifetime of experience with children–their problems, their delights, their challenges–Dr. Rudolf Dreikurs, one of America’s foremost child psychiatrists presents an easy to follow program that teaches parents how to cope with the common childhood problems that occur from toddler through preteen years. This warm and reassuring reference helps parents to understand their children’s actions better, giving them the guidance necessary to discipline lovingly and effectively.
Learn more

Nurture Shock
by Po Bronson

What if we told you…
that dishonesty in children is a positive trait
that arguing in front of your kids can make you a good role model
and that if you praise your children you risk making them fail
…and it was all true?

Using a cutting-edge combination of behavioural psychology and neuroscience, award-winning journalists Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman have produced an innovative, counter-intuitive read that will change the way we interact with our children forever.

They demonstrate that for years our best intentions with children have been our worst ideas, using break-through scientific studies to prove that our instincts and received wisdom are all wrong. Nurtureshock is the Freakonomics of childhood and adolescence, exploring logic-defying insights into child development that have far-reaching relevance for us all.
Learn more

Queen Bees and Wannabees
by Rosalind Wiseman

When Rosalind Wiseman first published Queen Bees & Wannabes, it fundamentally changed the way that adults looked at girls’ friendships and conflicts. From how they choose their best friends, how they express their anger, their boundaries with boys, and their relationships with parents—Wiseman showed how girls of every background are profoundly influenced by their interactions with each other.
Now, Wiseman has revised and updated her groundbreaking book for a new generation of girls, and explores:
How girls’ experiences before adolescence impact their teen years, future relationships, and overall success
The different roles girls play in and outside of cliques as Queen Bees, Targets, and Bystanders, and how this defines how they and others are treated
Girls’ power plays—from fake apologies to fights over IM and text message
Where boys fit into the equation of girl conflicts and how you can help your daughter better hold her own with the opposite sex
Checking your baggage—recognizing how your experiences impact the way you parent, and how to be sanely involved in your daughter’s difficult, yet common social conflicts
Packed with insights on technology’s impact on Girl World and enlivened with the experiences of girls, boys, and parents, the book that inspired the hit movie Mean Girls offers concrete strategies to help you empower your daughter to be socially competent and treat herself with dignity.
Learn more

Masterminds and Wingmen
by Rosalind Wiseman

In 2002, Rosalind Wiseman wrote Queen Bees and Wannabes and established a new way to understand girls’ social dynamics. Now Wiseman has done the same for boys. Wiseman’s new book, Masterminds and Wingmen: Helping Our Boys Cope with Schoolyard Power, Locker-Room Tests, Girlfriends, and the New Rules of Boy World, shows what’s really happening in boys’ lives. It creates a new language and analytical framework to understand the power of boys’ social hierarchies and how these influence their decision-making and emotional well-being. Wiseman’s hard-hitting challenge to parents and educators establishes a road map to reach boys and help them to grow into the best brothers, friends, students, athletes, boyfriends, and sons they can be.
Learn more

The Curse of the Good Girl: Raising Authentic Girls with Courage and Confidence
by Rachel Simmons

In The Curse of the Good Girl, Rachel Simmons argues that girls are pressured to embrace a version of selfhood that sharply curtails their power and potential. Unerringly nice, polite, modest, and selfless, the Good Girl is an identity so narrowly defined that it’s unachievable. When girls fail to live up to these empty expectations—experiencing conflicts with peers, making mistakes in the classroom or on the playing field—they become paralyzed by self-criticism, stunting the growth of vital skills and habits. Simmons traces the poisonous impact of Good Girl pressure on development and provides a strategy to reverse the tide. At once illuminating and prescriptive, The Curse of the Good Girl is an essential guide to contemporary girl culture and a call to arms from a new front in female empowerment.
Looking to the stories shared by the women and girls who attend her workshops, Simmons shows that pressure from parents, teachers, coaches, media, and peers erects a psychological glass ceiling that begins to enforce its confines in girlhood and extends across the female lifespan. The curse erodes girls’ ability to know, express, and manage a complete range of feelings. It expects girls to be selfless, limiting the expression of their needs. It requires modesty, depriving them of permission to articulate their strengths and goals. It diminishes assertive body language, quiets voices and weakens handshakes. It touches all areas of girls’ lives and follows many into adulthood, limiting their personal and professional potential.
We have long lamented the loss of self-esteem in adolescent girls, recognizing that while the doors of opportunity are open to twenty-first-century American girls, many lack the confidence to walk through them. In The Curse of the Good Girl, Simmons provides the first comprehensive action plan to silence the curse and bolster the self. Her inspiring message: that the most critical freedom we can win for our daughters is the liberty not only to listen to their inner voice, but to act on it.
Learn more

It’s Okay Not To Share
by Heather Shumaker

Although it flips convention on its head, It’s OK Not to Share… is based on child development and emerging neuroscience research. Discover concrete skills to help your child prevent bullying, channel active energy, express feelings appropriately and much more. It’s designed to make you rethink what you thought you knew about parenting and give you saner days.
Learn more

Middle School Makeover: Improving the Way You and Your Child Experience the Middle School Years
by Michelle Icard

 

Middle School Makeover is a guide for parents and educators to help the tweens in their lives navigate the socially fraught hallways, gyms, and cafeterias of middle school. The book helps parents, teachers, and other adults in middle school settings to understand the social dilemmas and other issues that kids today face. Author Michelle Icard covers a large range of topics, beginning with helping us understand what is happening in the brains of tweens and how these neurological development affects decision-making and questions around identity. She also addresses social media, dating, and peer exclusion. Using both recent research and her personal, extensive experience working with middle-school-aged kids and their parents, Icard offers readers concrete and practical advice for guiding children through this chaotic developmental stage while also building their confidence.
Learn more

Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain
by Daniel J. Siegel

In this groundbreaking book, the bestselling author of Parenting from the Inside Out and The Whole-Brain Child shows parents how to turn one of the most challenging developmental periods in their children’s lives into one of the most rewarding. Between the ages of 12 and 24, the brain changes in important and often maddening ways. It’s no wonder that many parents approach their child’s adolescence with fear and trepidation. According to renowned neuropsychiatrist Daniel Siegel, however, if parents and teens can work together to form a deeper understanding of the brain science behind all the tumult, they will be able to turn conflict into connection and form a deeper understanding of one another. In Brainstorm, Siegel illuminates how brain development affects teenagers’ behaviour and relationships. Drawing on important new research in the field of interpersonal neurobiology, he explores exciting ways in which understanding how the teenage brain functions can help parents make what is in fact an incredibly positive period of growth, change, and experimentation in their children’s lives less lonely and distressing on both sides of the generational divide.
Learn more

Best Friends, Worst Enemies: Understanding the Social Lives of Children
By Michael G. Thompson, Ph.D. and Catherine O’Neill Grace with Lawrence J. Cohen, Ph.D.

 

Friends broaden our children’s horizons, share their joys and secrets, and accompany them on their journeys into ever wider worlds. But friends can also gossip and betray, tease and exclude. Children can cause untold suffering, not only for their peers but for parents as well. In this wise and insightful book, psychologist Michael Thompson, Ph.D., and children’s book author Catherine O’Neill Grace, illuminate the crucial and often hidden role that friendship plays in the lives of children from birth through adolescence.
Drawing on fascinating new research as well as their own extensive experience in schools, Thompson and Grace demonstrate that children’s friendships begin early–in infancy–and run exceptionally deep in intensity and loyalty. As children grow, their friendships become more complex and layered but also more emotionally fraught, marked by both extraordinary intimacy and bewildering cruelty. As parents, we watch, and often live through vicariously, the tumult that our children experience as they encounter the “cool” crowd, shifting alliances, bullies, and disloyal best friends.
Best Friends, Worst Enemies brings to life the drama of childhood relationships, guiding parents to a deeper understanding of the motives and meanings of social behavior. Here you will find penetrating discussions of the difference between friendship and popularity, how boys and girls deal in unique ways with intimacy and commitment, whether all kids need a best friend, why cliques form and what you can do about them.
Filled with anecdotes that ring amazingly true to life, Best Friends, Worst Enemies probes the magic and the heartbreak that all children experience with their friends. Parents, teachers, counselors–indeed anyone who cares about children–will find this an eye-opening and wonderfully affirming book.
Learn more

How to Handle Toddler Meltdowns

toddler meltdown

Question: How do I handle “bad” toddler behaviors- aka toddler meltdown?

Scenario: My 2.5 year old daughter does not do this often, but three times in the last 2 weeks she has either hit me or thrown a toy at me. My friend witnessed one of the episodes and told me I should take a firm stand on this behavior and let her know that I will not tolerate it. Should I sit her down and tell her that her behavior is unacceptable, send her to her room or is there another strategy that might get better results.

Answer:

Wow, only 3 times in 2 weeks. I would be toasting to that exceptional behavior, not trying to find a strategy to punish her which I am fairly certain will turn your 3 times in 2 weeks to 3 times every day.

When stumped on how to handle toddler meltdowns, consider this:

Kids hit, throw, bite, pull, punch, scream, spit, holler, cry, pout, hug, kiss, cuddle, laugh, and say I love you because they are learning.

What are they learning? How to interpret the world. They are looking for responses to all these behaviors as a way to inform them on which ones bring mom and dad closer to them, and which behaviors push mom and dad away from them.

The best and most effective strategy is this – pay attention to the behaviors that will best serve your child (these are sure to delight you as well) and ignore the ones that will cause her trouble as she grows and matures.

QUESTION for YOU: Have you ever had a moment when you didn’t know how to handle toddler behaviors? What did you try and how did it go?

Five Tips to End Sibling Rivalry

It’s the Simple Things that Trip us Up

Let’s say you’re having one of those June-Cleaver-would-croak-if-she-saw-you moments. Your kids are rowdy, screeching and tearin’ the place apart. You look into the mirror and say, “If only they could get along and end this sibling rivalry my life would be bliss.” (Yeah right ☺).

Screaming and fighting happens. Sometimes it’s as simple as a child who is over tired or hungry. Maybe it’s the time of day that triggers a fisticuffs between siblings. And truth is, sometimes it’s something more. But before you spend too much time probing, rule out the simple reasons kids can go at each other without provocation.

With a little preemptive planning, you can cut off the small ‘skirmishes’ that pop-up and drain your energy leaving you feeling more like Lizzy Borden than Mrs. Cleaver.

Here’s how you find that mommy bliss and get back to your buntcake and bonbons:

  • Stop and think: Is there a simple reason the kids are fighting? Do they just need food? Offer it without engaging.
  • Notice the rhythm of your children’s behaviors. Redirect the energy BEFORE the “He hit me, no I didn’t” song starts to play on full blast (on repeat).
  • Zip your mouth, ma. The “telling them” and trying to “get them” to get along doesn’t work. Ignore it and find something productive to do instead. And if you invite them into an activity that seems more interesting that the fight, they are bound to check it out.
  • Stay Out Of It. It’s that simple. Don’t care. Don’t get annoyed. Don’t listen to the tattles. Don’t correct the kids. It’s none of your business. (Of course, if they are in harm’s way, do what you have to). Put your headphones on if need be and sing away. You’d be surprised how many kids will give up a fist fight when they hear a parents singing to Talking Heads.
  • Give them something else to do. AHHHH – There’s the rub. Most parents aren’t sure WHAT ELSE TO DO – so they return to the old ways….

Fighting can be avoided with a little investigation, a bit of redirecting and a willingness not to make things worse. Best of all, practicing these tips over time – goes a long way to eliminating sibling rivalry.

Are you a Discouraged Parent with Discouraged Kids?

If we want our children to change their behavior, we must first change ours.I received this today, from a parent who took my class when her oldest was a mere babe – 15 years ago. This is what is possible when we, as parents – find the courage to question our parenting style, our parenting decisions and our parenting motives. And at the end of the day – isn’t this what every single parent wants to say about their kids – “thank goodness, I didn’t raise an ass.” Okay, maybe we want to say more than that, but you can’t deny that that one sentence sums it up for hundreds of thousands of us.

Today as I was driving home I was reflecting on the day’s events.

I was grateful for the conversation I had with my 17-year-old son about parenting in general and specifically about how and why parents make some of the decisions they make about raising their kids. We talked about the sometimes unrealistic expectations parents have for their kids and that with a few exceptions the majority of parents I know are doing what they believe to be in the best interest of their children. My nearly grown son was engaged in the conversation, curious and interested in learning and sharing his perspective with me. A perspective that made me think that when he is a parent, he will be so much more prepared than I ever was to become a parent. Best of all though, we were totally connected in the moment.

I was appreciating the morning conversation with my 15-year-old daughter about competition among her sisters and that when they are discouraged they can be quick to bring one of them down a notch, but in the same second if that same sister needs something, they are all there for each other, without fail. We were sharing how we all in our family (parents included) can do that quickly – bring someone down if we are feeling upset or discouraged – and sitting quietly with that truth. The conversation was thoughtful, honest, reflective and again, I was glad to be invited in to her young adult life and learn from her wisdom.

I was appreciating the courage that my 11-year-old daughter was demonstrating as she navigates a relationship with a fellow classmate, who continually puts her and at times other members of our family down. I have offered support and she assures me she’s “got this” and continues to process and bounce ideas around with me. I listen quietly and send her love. She knows I am here loving and believing in her and I appreciate the invitation to be a part of this process and her young adolescent life, inspired by her courage, confidence and conviction.

I was grateful for the problem solving skills and tenacity that my 8-year-old daughter offered when she created an appreciation board for all of us to use. She felt our family was acting a bit discouraged and weekly appreciations at Family Meeting “just must not be enough.” She created the board and posted it with an appreciation. Her oldest sister asked, “What happens if someone does not get an appreciation?” Her reply with a wink was, “Then I guess that person isn’t being very nice and might decide to offer something good up.”

I came into the house filled with love and admiration for these fine young people, ready for another cup of coffee and a facebook scan. Immediately, I noticed two posts.

“I don’t think my nagging is working any more. I think I’ll switch tactics & try leaving notes around the house. If you come to my house and see “please replace the toilet paper if you take the last of it” or “if you drop the hand towel please hang it back up” please know that they’re not directed at you. :)”

I was grateful that I had learned that nagging is not a strategy that teaches kids to take care of themselves and glad that I had found the answer to this problem.

Then I read this.

“When I get old, I’m going to move in with my kids, hog the computer, pay no bills, eat all the food, trash the house and when asked to clean up, pitch a fit like its killing me.”

With comments that followed:

“Leave all the lights on, have a ton of animals that I “swear” I will take care of, leave all the cupboards open and still be bored as s— and wan’na go somewhere other than home…..

Trash the car, leave food and dishes all over the house, spill something on the floor and leave it there, hog the remote.

Wow, parents can trash kids, but expect the kids to be respectful of them. When kids do what their parents do on facebook, the parents get mad, so mad they shoot bullets in the computer, or publicly shame the kids on facebook, the internet, or the street corner. And our society accepts and applauds this behavior from those adults.

I gave thanks for my family and realized the problem. We live in a culture where discouraged parents are raising discouraged kids.

Solution: Duct Tape Parenting. 15 years ago I found a philosophy that lifted me up and out of my own discouragement. I discovered a philosophy along with strategies that gave me the tools to encourage myself, encourage my children and to support my children’s natural desire to be independent, capable, confident, cooperative, respectful, responsible, and resilient human beings.

If you are ready to stop feeding this cycle of discouragement that seems to be mounting to epidemic proportions, read the book. It will mean something different for you, than it did for me. You will not parent your children, like I parent mine. You will learn how to develop the courage to be the parent you dreamed of being, to parent from your best, and to allow your children to grow into their best selves.

Parenting Style: Can you Identify yours?


For more information on parenting visit KidsInTheHouse.com

When we speak about parenting styles we identify three types.

1. The first is Permissive, and this is generally described as freedom without order. The parent will often times give into the child to avoid a temper tantrum, a pushback, or a meltdown. They often times use bribes as a way to get their kids to do what they want.

2. On the flip side is an Authoritarian style of parenting where the child really has very few choices in life and parents use threats and consequences and demands when they hit road bumps with their children. This is often described as order without freedom.

In both cases, the kids miss the opportunity to learn some really valuable skills. One, how to cooperate with parents. Two, how to take responsibility for the things in their lives.

3. The third alternative that is available to parents is what’s called the Democratic approach. And this balances freedom with order. Order is respectful to the parent, and freedom is respectful to the child.

When you implement this type of parenting style, what you create is a respectful, peaceful, balanced life with your kids. Here’s an example – your daughter is throwing Cheerios off the table. In a permissive household, the parents would just pick it up and say, “oh honey, we don’t do that.” And the child would do it day after day after day and the parents would just keep picking it up.

In an authoritarian it might sound like if you throw those Cheerios down again, you’re not getting anything till lunch. And they might remove the child and send them on their way. But 10 minutes later when the child is crying that he is hungry, the parent will indeed feed him.

In a Democratic approach what you’d say is you look like you’re through. Because when people throw food off the table, it indicates they’re done eating. I’ll see you at lunchtime. They key is that you follow through with what you say. The child leaves the table, but he approaches you in 10 minutes saying “My tummy is hungry, please feed me.” And you say, “You made a choice. You threw the food. That indicates you’re done. The next meal is at noon.”  This is a win-win for everybody.

Here is Why your Parenting Style Matters

There is loads of talk today about parenting styles and parenting techniques and parenting preferences. All the way from Velcro and Helicopter parenting to CTFD parenting. Truthfully, I agree there is a whole lot of focus and advice smathering cyberspace and I can completely understand why many parents are becoming deaf to any type of talk about this subject.

In most cases I agree – I have two sayings 1. Just because you can write a blog about parenting does not mean you should, and 2. we are all doing the best we can with the information we have. My job is to offer quality information for parents to sift through and decide if they would like to make changes in the way they parent and the relationship they are fostering with their children.

When I discuss parenting styles, I discuss three types.

Authoritarian parenting style which categorizes  parents with clearly defined rules that they expect their children to follow without question or even discussion. Often known as the really strict parents, authoritarian parents hold high expectations for their children and believe that parents are, and should be, in complete control.  These parents “shape, control and evaluate the behavior and attitudes of the child in accordance with a set of standards of conduct, usually an absolute standard[which] values obedience as a virtue and favors punitive, forceful measures to curb self-will” (p. 890).

Permissive parenting style refers to parents who place few, if any demands on their children, allowing children “complete freedom to make life decisions without referring to parents for advice . . .” (Hickman, Bartholomae, & McKenry, 2000, p. 42). Permissive parents allow the “child to regulate his own activities as much as possible, avoid the exercise of control” (Baumrind, 1966, p. 889)  Often these parents view themselves as their children’s friends or peers more than providing the boundaries of the parent-child relationship.

Democratic parenting style is an integration of the other two parenting styles, where parents set clear rules and expectations but also encourage discussion and give-and-take,  especially as their children get older and are able to take more responsibility for themselves. These parents “remain receptive to the child’s views but take responsibility for firmly guiding the child’s actions, emphasizing reasoning, communication, and rational discussion in interactions that are friendly as well as tutorial and disciplinary” (Baumrind, 1996, p. 410).

I find it as no surprise that there are big differences in the ways we approach parenting. Our culture, our situations and even the way our parents raised us influences how we decide what constitutes the right way or wrong way to parent.

What is surprising is the consistent findings about how these different styles of parenting impact our children’s development. The way you parent can influence how your children do in school, relate to others, and whether or not they develop the personal strengths which help them to thrive and how to best deal with life’s stresses.

Having spent years studying parenting and resiliency, research shows that children raised by Democratic parents have higher self-esteem, do better in school, relate better to their peers in large part because they had greater self-confidence and self control.

On the other hand, families with Authoritarian or Permissive parenting tend to have children who can struggle in school, have lower self-efficacy, less self-control, and lower self-esteem, placing these children more at risk when dealing with life’s adversities.

Here are 3 tips to support a Democratic Parenting Style

1.  Include children in the decision making process.  This begins by giving toddlers choices between two things.  Over time, they become skilled decision makers.  Increase their participating by inviting them to help create family policies around bedtime, homework, extra-curricular activities.

2.  Practice being Firm and Kind in both your words, actions and attitudes.  Firm shows the respect you have for yourself and Kind shows the respect you have for the child.  As an example:

Situation:  You have asked your child a number of times to choose which shoes to wear to the store but he refuses and he decides instead to run around.      

Firm: Showing respect for yourself means that you will refuse to fight with the child, manhandle the child or give in to the child.  You understand that when your child refuses to choose, he is abdicating his position in the conversation.  In other words, the child is choosing to have you make the choice.

Kind:  Make the choice for the child in a calm, respectful and friendly manner.  You can maintain a healthy connection with the child and still be in a position of authority.  It might mean that you carry the sneakers to the car to be put on later and his socks get wet as a result or that you leave him home with dad while you run the errands, or you cancel the trip to the hobby shop and go another day.  

Because the situation did not deteriorate into a power struggle, the child is free to learn that by not choosing, he is indeed making a choice.  You have modeled behavior you wish your child to model as he grows and matures and you can continue with your day with little interruption and without feeling resentful.

3.  Create rhythms that support everyone in the home.  Some children like a limited time in the morning to get ready for school while others prefer to wake up with time to spare.  The same is true for bedtime and homework routines and and other routines typically found in busy families.  If you take the time to identify the natural rhythms in your children, you can support them and avoid unnecessary power struggles.  This support is in line with a democratic model which allows everyone in the family to design rhythms that best support who they are without forcing anyone to conform to one persons routines or giving in to the demands of a child.  

The Democratic Parenting Style has benefits for everyone in the family.  

For more information on parenting visit KidsInTheHouse.com

How to Stop Screaming and Start Engaging


For more information on parenting visit KidsInTheHouse.com

As parents, most of us will ask our kids to get dressed, or brush their teeth, or go get their homework so we can get in the car. As kids, they typically will ignore that first request. We then follow with a few more requests using a really nice calm voice. The kids continue to ignore us. And it’s at that point that we change from nice to screeching, yelling, demanding, and threatening. And it seems to us as parents that’s the only time our children get engaged, when we escalate into the screaming, which is not really what we want to be doing. Most parents I speak with say they would love to be able to stop screaming.

It’s important for parents to understand that first of all most kids are parents deaf. It’s a little bit like the Charlie Brown scenario. What they hear through those first requests is [wah-wah, wah-wah]. All of these requests and reminders train the kids that they don’t really have to move until we escalate. So one of the ways to break that pattern is to start out by giving our kids choices, because they have to answer you.

When you speak to your kids change from a direction to a request or a choice. “John, would you like to brush your teeth now or after this commercial? Mary, would you like to get your homework now or after we finish dinner. Jamie, do you want to brush your teeth now or after we finish reading the book?”

The child is required to then respond in some way. Once you receive a response, you can move the conversation forward. Even if the child replies by saying, “neither”, you have the beginning of a conversation started and you can answer, “I see. When would you be willing to…?” Try it and see if this helps you to stop screaming.

Vicki’s Golden Nugget of Parenting Advice


For more information on parenting visit KidsInTheHouse.com

Imagine that your child comes home at 25-years-old with her best friend. Everyone is sitting at the table and your child’s best friend ask your child to describe you in one word.

    What would your child say? What word would she use?
    What do you as a parent want that word to be?
    Are you the person you want your child to describe?
    How are you demonstrating this value every day?
    What actions do you take in relationship with your child that support who you want to be?

The golden nugget of parenting advice? Decide. Decide who you want to be and take the time and make a plan to be that person and practice. Run every decision through this value and practice every day.